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Rhodes Scholar, MacArthur Fellow, and staff member of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and The New Yorker, Atul Gawande believes that writing makes him a “happier surgeon.”

Few doctors, let alone residents a year away from looking for a job, would think to publish a collection of their mistakes. But Gawande’s first collection of essays, Complications, did exactly that. His second book, Better, took a broader look at performance, with case studies including the last cases of polio in India and the treatment of battlefield wounds in Iraq. “I was trying to understand the moral dimensions of success in medicine, and talking to medical consultants at executions or war doctors at Walter Reed Hospital was one way of trying to grasp that. Often, going out of the usual lets you see something in an entirely new way.”

In a June 2009 article for The New Yorker, Gawande made a case against revenue-driven medicine that has sparked more conversation in the past decade than perhaps any other single piece of writing on the subject. Combining the policy-wonk’s precise research, the doctor’s insider knowledge, and the writer’s clarity and convention, Gawande admits that his work on the page may be as lifesaving as his work in the OR. 

About the Ticket Supplier: Seattle Arts & Lectures

In addition to presenting the foremost fiction and nonfiction writers, Seattle Arts & Lectures' events and courses illuminate arts, culture, and a world of ideas.